The best compression boots of 2022, according to fitness directors

Courtesy of retailer

IF YOU asked us what we thought about compression boots a few years ago, we would have told you they were an innovative product with potential. The big question was, “Will they die out like other fitness fads, or will the technology continue to improve?” The latter seems to have taken shape thanks to the innovative product design of two key brands: Normatec and Therabody.

Yes, it’s true that there are other brands that make compression boots for training recovery, but the fact is that none go the extra mile like Normatec and Therabody. For example, after our initial review of the Therabody compression boots a year ago, the brand developed a fascinating boot iteration that is truly wireless called the JetBoots. As for Normatec, we recently tested the Normatec Go, a highly portable compression system that targets the calves and allows for easy recovery on the go.

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For those who are skeptical about compression boots, we get it. To be clear, there is still a great lack of scientific research to support claims that compression shoes help speed up or improve the recovery process. (Brands may tell you otherwise, but we’re only guided by independent research.). Instead, we can only tell you how we feel after using them. “There is limited conclusive scientific data to prove that compression boots actively accelerate the recovery of your lower body. However, compression boots have value,” says Ebenezer Samuel, MH Fitness Director, CSCS “The end result is definitely relaxing—thereby allowing my nervous system to down-regulate, and that down-regulation has restorative value.”

To help you sift through the rapidly expanding options, we’ve put together a roundup of the best compression boots for all types of people. Ahead, six curated compression shoes to suit all workout routines and budgets.

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Best pair overall

TheraBody

RecoveryAir JetBoots

Battery life Until 4 o’clock

Best entry level pair

TheraBody

RecoveryAir Prime

Battery life Until 3 o’clock

Best intermediate pair

hyperis

Normatec 3 legs

Battery life Until 3 o’clock

The most portable pair

hyperis

Normatec Go

Battery life Until 3 o’clock

The most personalized experience

TheraBody

RecoveryAir Pro System

Battery life Until 4 o’clock

Best full body pack

hyperis

Normatec 3 Whole body

Battery life Until 3 o’clock

How do compression boots work?

Compression boots work by using air pressure to control blood circulation in your feet. “As each chamber in the boot fills with air and compresses more tightly, it prevents a large amount of blood from circulating through that part of your body,” says Samuel. “So when the boots are tight first around your feet and then over your calves, blood flow to those areas is restricted. As this compression continues around your entire leg, you are left with even more restricted blood flow. But just for a moment after everything where the cameras methodically deflate, allowing the blood to move first into your thighs, then down through your lower legs, then into your feet.”

The theory behind this practice is that the rush of blood will help deliver nutrients to help your feet recover effectively, but this has not been proven with facts. Despite the lack of evidence, gently squeezing your leg muscles can feel relaxing—even like a massage at times.

To ensure your circulation isn’t cut off, TheraBody and Normatec have limited their devices to only reach certain amounts of pressure (measured in mmHG). So as long as you properly fit the boots on your feet and use them for the set time settings, the risk of injury is low. Just make sure that if you are new to using compression boots, start with the lowest setting for short periods of time first. Then, as you get more comfortable using your compression boots, you can play with the higher mmHG levels and time settings.

Why are compression boots so expensive?

Buying a pair of compression boots is no small investment, which is why we’ve taken the time to check out the most reliable products above. Broadly speaking, compression boots are largely cost-effective because you’re bringing high-level compression therapy technology into the comfort of your own home.

So with the price points you see with Normatec and Therabody, you have to consider the amount of research and development needed to help perfect compression boots while still being easy to use. Features such as simple control panels, built-in internal pumps, preset programs and compression targeting are a few examples of technologies that have improved over the past few years.

The second thing to consider is portability, as brands have managed to condense the size of their products and make them relatively easy to move around the house and travel with. Last but not least is safety as brands need to make sure their compression boots work within a certain limit to ensure you get a tightening effect on your muscles without you go too far and potentially cause injury.

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Over the past two years, we have consulted with Men’s healthFitness editors and writers of upper compression fitness boots. Experts, including our Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, CSCS, and Fitness Editor Brett Williams, NASM, put all the major compression shoe brands to the test to evaluate their performance, fit, price and ease of use.

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